Ira Stone: Reading
Jewish Publication Society, 1998) One
of the characteristics of TR has been that although it was founded by academics
(see [About Textual Reasoning]), some of
its founders were also rabbis; since its inception in 1991, this group has
been committed to fostering a conversation between text-based/trained scholars
and philosophically inclined ones; this has always included less formally
educated people. As individuals who are learners in some fashion, we all
benefit from each other's varying perspectives at the proverbial table.
following, Ira Stone, a pulpit rabbi of 20 years, has provided the point
of departure for some of our members to ruminate on the contribution of
the French Lithuanian Jewish philosopher Emmanuel
Levinas to his-and their-own, community-oriented rather than academic,
reading of rabbinic texts.
Stone is also a reader of poetry, and himself a poet.
Review of 1998
year 1998 saw a range of occasions when Textual Reasoning stepped out ot the
virtual world of our email-based discussions. We organized study sessions
at the World Congress of Philosophy (WCP) in Boston/Mass., at the annual meeting
of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) in Orlando/Florida, as well as at
the annual conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS), also in
Boston. In this fashion we broadened our presence at traditional professional
associations in the fields of philosophy, religion, and Jewish Studies while,
in each case, showcasing our very own specific form of learning in groups,
based on traditional texts.
Boston, August 10-16, 1998
TR organized three roundtable discussions at the World Congress of Philosophy
on the topic of Talmud Torah and Paideia.
Participants were Gerda Elata-Elster (University of Beer Sheva), Steven Kepnes
(Colgate University), and Reuven Kimelman (Brandeis University), as chair
served Michael Zank. Norbert Samuelson and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson were present
at the programmatic first meeting led by Steven Kepnes; an occasion for tough
questions: what distinguishes "textual reasoning" from other forms of text
study; what is postmodern about this enterprise. Not everyone was satisfied
with the answers given, But the fact that this and the following kinds of
discussions could be had at the World Congress showed the immense readiness
among contemporary students of philosophy to provide room to non-standard
approaches to philosophical reasoning. This curiosity was particularly evident
when some, albeit few, WCP participants were drawn to our discussions who
had not hitherto heard of this enterprise or were even newcomers to Jewish
philosophy and Judaism in general. All in all, an enjoyable event, not least
thanks to Gerda Elata, Reuven Kimelman, and Steve Kepnes.
on WCP and the forthcoming proceedings, please see URL
As in previous years since 1991, TR hosted a study session and reception at
the annual meeting of the AAR/SBL. This year the text was the Israeli Declaration
of Independence. Nancy Levene organized the event. Presenter was Jay Harris.
The discussion was lively, engaged and on a high level of sophistication.
As in the preceding year, the reception was sponsored by the Center for Judaic
Studies at Boston University, Steven T. Katz, Director.
The texts and
arguments that were the basis of this discussion can be found in volume
seven of this journal.
Boston/Mass., December 1998
Jacob Meskin put together a study session, dedicated to Ira Stone's new book
on Levinas' reading of the Talmud. Scheduled after the main program had ended
and most AJS members had scattered attending to their various private networking
needs, this event nevertheless drew a respectable crowd, including such illustrious
spectators as Hillel Fradkin of the American Enterprise Institute and tr-member
and tireless source of good energy, Jay Harris himself who actually provided
us with the accomodation for this additional session.
We cordially invite submissions on any topic associated with the purposes
of textual reasoning. If possible, please send a diskette formatted for Macintosh
(Word 6 or lower) to Michael Zank, Dept. of Religion, Boston University, 745
Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA. 02215, or attach file to an email message and
send to email@example.com.